is this a bullet journal?

I mean, yes, I guess so.

So a few years ago, there was this great big hullabaloo about bullet journaling. Mindfulness! Productivity! Organization! Analog thinking in a digital age! Here’s a link to the website.

I loved the idea. I love a lot of ideas–it’s honestly a problem for me, if I’m not careful. But I liked the foundational principle, because I like making lists, and I like checking things off lists. I’d tried methods before, and I had these grand designs for hand-written journals, and deep, perfectly symmetrical notebooks–are you a notebook person? Someone who can’t help but buy those little books at the front of bookstores, and fill them with (ultimately) your best intentions? I’ve gotten better with that; I don’t buy any except the annual bullet journal anymore.

I don’t want you to hear “bullet journal” and think of this:

There’s nothing wrong with the above, if that’s your thing. I have noticed, digging through pages upon pages of “interesting page ideas,” that there’s got to be a lot of pre-formatting that happens with these posts, right? I make mistakes all the time, and it took a long time to just cross out the mistake and keep going; to miss a day or week and pick it back up. I can appreciate the stuff above, but it’s very… manufactured.

I don’t do it in color. I don’t draw. I have pretty straight forward pages. I’m happy with it.

I have monthly pages. This is my monthly tracker–and yeah, I know, I didn’t exercise a lot in the top of the year.

This is what my weekly tracker looks like–I have some tasks every day, I try to mindfully reflect at the end of the day on what was accomplished (left hand margin); I keep notes and little bits of information on the right hand margin, and goals at the bottom right. The goals line up to the Seven Points.

I recommend bullet journaling–it’s simple, it has helped me keep things in line, and I suppose I’m more mindful. I recommend you practice grace with yourself. If you want to do the ornate, full-color, taped up pages, go for it–but I’ve found more success with a pen, going one day at a time.

…upon further reflection–I am really not trashing people who do the very planned, meticulous pages. I do not personally find value in it. But if that is the means and modes of self-expression for you, go for it. I don’t care, so long as it does cause or perpetuate harm, really.

next beginnings

My alarm went off at four forty-five today–I did not kick it from a regular weekday schedule, and I think my phone believes I’ve given up on holidays. (It no longer asks, “Tomorrow is Flag Day (Observed); would you like to forgo your alarm?) I gave my orange cat Copperfield his dose of pain meds, and saw that it was snowing out.

Y’all. I love snow. I wrote about it some yesterday, before the next beginnings of today, because I really love snow. It’s a blank slate. It’s a callback to good days of childhood. It makes the world–at least the world under inches, the world of a few miles–be so intentional and examine their priorities.

As I went back to bed at five a.m., having drugged the cat and thought about doing Vigils (I went to sleep hours past my bedtime, I was groggy), I thought, “Well there goes the Best Morning on the first day of the year.” I promptly let go of that self-criticism, and went back to sleep.

Do you have a morning routine? I’ve developed one in the last six months. Here’s a picture of it, rather than a list:

A picture of a lit candle, full coffee cup, assorted chargers, a smart watch, and four books: A Holy Bible, A Year with Hafiz, The Divine Hours, and a blue journal with a beetle sticker on nit.
Completely staged, but a good representation of what “the opening” entails: coffee, exercise, Hafiz, prayer, scripture and the omnipresent Blue Book. The candle and the sparkling water are bonus.

On what I call best mornings, I rise early. I say prayers, I have coffee, I meditate on Hafiz a little, and I study scripture. I convince myself I should work out, and then do so, trying to negotiate away sets with myself the whole time. I sometimes succeed at stopping early.

This morning, I woke up and stayed in bed a bit. I watched the snow come down with B in a quiet house. I had a bagel and cream cheese a friend of ours shipped from New York. And I still found the time to pray, and do the daily Psalms, and sit with Hafiz, and look out on the next beginning of the next year.

I know a few years ago, I would have considered the year blown by sleeping, or not following a regular order, or not hitting every barely-considered self-made barrier checkpoint from the beginning. Resolutions that don’t have room for failure–repeated failure, complete failure, overt failure, unintentional failure–aren’t resolutions but self-loathing written down in a numbered list.

This is what I know: Today is a new day, just like yesterday was, and just as tomorrow will be. Therefore today I can strive to become more, and maybe through God’s grace and increased discipline, I will. And maybe I won’t–and tomorrow’s a new day.

I needed the snow this morning. It’s really coming down, and though it is supposed to stop at noon, I kind of hope it goes and swirls and falls all day and night. A good reminder for one like me who needs to live in next beginnings.